This week, Ford GoBike pulled its electric bikes from San Francisco and other cities over safety concerns. Specifically, GoBike, which is owned and operated by Lyft, found some riders experienced stronger braking force on the front wheel. (If you put too much pressure on a bike’s front brake, you can flip over the handlebars.)
In December, GoBike expanded its e-bike fleet from 250 to 850 in San Francisco. It also added the bikes to Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, and San Jose.
While the decision to pull the bikes disappointed the many SF residents who lost their primary transportation mode, GoBike said it plans to install replacement bikes soon. In the meantime, users can rent any number of human-powered bikes and electric scooters.
Scooters at the heart of a liability debate
If you live in Oakland, you may notice a shortage of e-scooters if Bird, Lime, Lyft, Razor, and Spin don’t convince the city to modify its terms and conditions.
The City of Oakland wants to hold the scooter companies liable if a user gets injuredwhen hitting a bump or pothole on the city’s deteriorating streets. Typically, if a cyclist crashes due to a pothole in the road, and the city knew about the pothole and didn’t fix it, the city could be held liable. In the case of e-scooters, the city wants to shift the responsibility to the scooter companies.
It’s an unusually harsh proposal. If a bicyclist rides over a known pothole and gets seriously injured, is the bicycle manufacturer at fault? If a pedestrian trips and falls in an unmarked construction zone, is the sneaker company at fault?
The final outcome of this argument remains unclear, much like many of the personal injury issues around scooters. Adding to the complexity is the notion of safety. You see scooters on every corner, so you assume they’re easy to use and safe. But scooters travel up to 15 mph, and while the scooter companies encourage helmets, very few people wear them. If a scooter rider collides with a vehicle, that rider risks fatal injuries.
Unfortunately, I expect to get more calls about scooter injuries in the near future. Depending on the terms of the user agreement riders sign, it may be hard to prove a case.
To avoid this situation in the first place, wear a helmet when riding a scooter or any kind of bike. Stay off sidewalks to avoid hitting a pedestrian. And follow the same rules of the road as bicyclists and others traveling on our city streets.
Were you injured in a bicycle or scooter accident? Get medical treatment right away. When you’re able, call our office for a free consultation.
Photo courtesy of Waltarrrr, Flickr